Originally Published: January 1, 2018 6 a.m.
There are a couple of things as a journalist that make me angry. The first is hypocrisy, so that should explain why I’ve been so angry with national politics for years.
But the second is when someone says something absurd to your face. You know it’s absurd, they know you know it’s absurd, but they go ahead say it anyway and just expect you to report it like it’s not the gibberish that it is.
For example, we published a story on the minimum wage hike that increases 50 cents today in Arizona to $10.50 per hour.
Glenn Hamer is the president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Part of his job is to speak on behalf of that industry and push for laws that benefit them.
In our story he acknowledged that employment in the state is growing despite the higher minimum wage that took place a year ago and that his organization opposed.
Still, Hamer said he is convinced that the change has had an effect and that some people have lost their jobs. For example, he said the garage where he parks no longer has any attendants.
“Those jobs have been automated out of existence,” Hamer said.
I’ve seen automated parking lot attendants way before the minimum wage was increased in Arizona to $10 an hour one year ago today. I’ve seen the number of people available to check out my groceries decline as new machines to do the job are installed long before voters even considered a hike.
Businesses are always looking for cost savings. Labor is one of the highest costs. Companies have been building robots to take the jobs of men since 1913 when Henry Ford started the assembly line to spit out new cars faster.
To sit there and suggest that those parking lot attendants wouldn’t have lost their jobs anyway even if voters rejected a minimum wage hike is ridiculous.
But he has to make a case, and considering the success of the minimum wage increase, that’s the best he can come up with.
Unemployment in Arizona has fallen, especially in the hospitality industry. The state’s unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, down from 4.6. The state ranks first in the nation in job increases in restaurant businesses, a sector that is largely populated by low-wage workers, according to Lee McPheters, a research professor in economics at Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business in an Arizona Republic story.
When low-wage workers have more money they spend it. That helps the overall economy.
The retail industry isn’t faring as well as hospitality, largely because of an increase in online shopping — those darn robots again.
The doomsday scenarios that opponents of the minimum wage increase used haven’t come true. And if the best they can come up with to argue against it now is automated parking lot attendants, well, let’s start out 2018 with a little truth rather than laugh-out-loud statements said with an earnest face.
Let’s call the wage increase a huge success it is and congratulate voters for their wisdom in making it law.
Email Ken Sain at firstname.lastname@example.org.